What do you do when you’re in a business networking group and you realize that one of the members is not living up to expectations?  Here’s what you don’t do – nothing about it.  Why?  Lots of reasons come to mind, but let’s start with this one.  A business networking group depends on getting new members.  Generally, the larger the group, the larger the number & value of referrals passed between it’s members.  Any group will have a certain amount of attrition.  Here’s the problem.  When you allow a member to exhibit bad behavior without consequence, prospective members will see this and tend not to join.  The best of the current members will become exasperated & quit.  The wrong people will stay & the wrong people will go.  Also, since referral marketing is dependent on trust, allowing untrustworthy members to stay speaks badly of the whole group.

So what do you do about it?   First discuss the situation with the offending party.  “Man up” as they say & confront the person by letting them know what behavior is a problem & see if they didn’t realize it & are willing to change the behavior.  Give them a chance to correct the problem once aware of it.  If that doesn’t succeed, move on to step two.

Any such group needs to have a membership committee made up of at least 3 members.  If step one doesn’t take care of it, you need to raise the issue to the attention of the membership committee.  They will probably (should) ask whether you have taken step one.  If not, they should advise you to do so before going further.  Sometimes that’s all that’s needed, but failing success there, the membership committee should then let the person causing the problem know in writing as well as in person what the problem is, get their side of the story, and then in writing tell them they are on probation for a fixed period till the problem is corrected.  If at the end of that period, the problem is still occurring, then the membership committee must remove them from the group.

But that’s so harsh you say?  Less harsh than punishing all the other members & prospective members with someone who is a deterent to new membership.  Failing to deal with such matters can destroy the group.   Sorry for such a negative sounding blog entry, but let’s just say this isn’t a hypothetical story.

Happy networking,

David Coblitz – The St. Louis Artographer – “Helping interior designers take your walls from bland to grand.”



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